GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK Motherboard Review

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by Rob Williams on August 27, 2014 in Motherboards

Our last two Z97 reviews involved some petite motherboards, so it’s time to go all-out – something GIGABYTE’s Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK helps us pull off. Its name implies that gamers are the target here, and as you’d expect from its $350 price tag, it’s packed with features. What more reason do you need to read? Come on in.

Performance Testing

From a performance perspective, we feel that motherboard benchmarking is useless. It’s the motherboard’s job to allow all of the installed hardware to operate at its full potential, so in theory, a $100 option shouldn’t be much (or any) slower than a $300 one. The differences in price instead comes down to the quality of the onboard components and other features.

So why do it at all? It’s because it’s important to make sure that the board we’re dealing with doesn’t lack in one particular area versus the rest. If board A performs 2% slower than board B in PCMark, for example, that’s of no concern to us – random benchmark variance is a fact of life. However, if one board consistently performs weaker than the rest, that’s worthy of note – it could suggest that weaker components have been used which do not allow the hardware to operate at its full potential.

Please bear this in mind when perusing our results. Just because a board under-performs in a single test, it doesn’t mean anything in regards to its quality as a whole. Our ultimate goal here is to make sure that each board we test performs as we’d expect across the gamut of scenarios we pit them against.

Techgage Intel Z97 Test OS
Our Intel Z97 Testing OS (Wallpaper Credit)

Note: ASUS’ Z97I-PLUS was tested with its ‘MultiCore Enhancement’ option left enabled. This means that the CPU was clock-boosted, which will result in improved performance over MSI’s Z97I Gaming AC and GIGABYTE’s Z97X-Gaming G1, both of which ran at absolute stock, CPU-wise. Also, because the design of the MSI board prevented me from using the same tall memory sticks I had used for testing the the other boards with, the specs are dissimilar. The MSI board was tested with 8GB of memory spec’d at DDR3-1866 – a stark contrast to the 16GB of DDR3-2133 we normally use. A difference in hardware like this isn’t ideal, but this particular motherboard forced my hand. None of our tests exhaust 8GB of memory, so the sole difference here will be via the frequency.

Intel LGA1150 Test System
ProcessorIntel Core i7-4770K – Quad-Core, 3.50GHz
MotherboardASUS Z97I-PLUS (BIOS: ‘2103’ 07/03/2014)
MSI Z97I Gaming AC (BIOS: ‘1.2’ 06/30/2014)
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK (BIOS: ‘F5’ 05/30/2014)
MemoryKingston HyperX Beast 2x8GB – DDR3-2133 11-12-11-31
GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti (GeForce 334.98 Driver)
AudioOnboard
StorageKingston HyperX 240GB SSD
Power SupplyCorsair HX850W
ChassisCorsair Obsidian 700D Full-Tower
CoolingNoctua NH-U14S Air Cooler
Et ceteraWindows 7 Professional 64-bit

Increasing the BCLK value is one way that vendors could sneak in some higher-than-stock performance numbers, so after letting the test bench sit idle for a couple of minutes, we look at the current BCLK value as according to CPU-Z.

BCLK ValuesResult
ASUS Z97I-PLUS99.8 MHz
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK100.0 MHz
MSI Z97I Gaming AC100.0 MHz

General System Performance

To take a look at the “overall” performance of our PC configuration, we rely on dual Futuremark suites: PCMark 8 and 3DMark (2013).

PCMark 8 Suite ScoresHomeWorkCreative
ASUS Z97I-PLUS434652553478
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK427451263444
MSI Z97I Gaming AC421451233343
Higher results are better.
3DMark (2013)3DMarkGraphicsPhysics
ASUS Z97I-PLUS3286346411116
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK3261343411165
MSI Z97I Gaming AC3273345810604
Fire Strike test. 3DMark results in points; higher is better.

All boards perform well here, with ASUS getting the slight edge that we expected it would. Interestingly, though, while the GIGABYTE and MSI boards go head-to-head in Home and Work, the big G comes close to the ASUS in Creative.

I/O Performance

To properly give the internal SATA 6Gbps a good workout, we turn to HD Tune and CrystalDiskMark.

HD Tune Pro 5MinimumAverageMaximumLatency
ASUS Z97I-PLUS309.6422.5460.60.056ms
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK313.3418.9452.80.055ms
MSI Z97I Gaming AC305.3418.6455.20.055ms
Min/Avg/Max results in MB/s; higher is better. Latency results in ms; lower is better.
CrystalDiskMarkRead Seq.Read 4KWrite Seq.Write 4K
ASUS Z97I-PLUS523.141.87317.8161.1
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK494.941.29311.4159.9
MSI Z97I Gaming AC494.540.83309.8153.4
All results in MB/s.
CrystalDiskMark USB 3.0Read Seq.Read 4KWrite Seq.Write 4K
ASUS Z97I-PLUS273.529.20271.270.72
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK270.728.88263.568.92
MSI Z97I Gaming AC270.628.65262.967.45
All results in MB/s.

ASUS takes the lead once again, but as usual, the performance is so close that it’s negligable.

Rendering & Image Manipulation

Writing files to disk or reading a website doesn’t do much to exercise our CPU, so for that, we turn to a few common scenarios – image editing, video rendering, music conversion, and 3D rendering.

Adobe Lightroom 5.5Result
ASUS Z97I-PLUS589 s
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK594 s
MSI Z97I Gaming AC636 s
Results in seconds; lower is better.
Autodesk 3ds Max 2015Result
ASUS Z97I-PLUS895 s
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK975 s
MSI Z97I Gaming AC981 s
Results in seconds; lower is better.
Cinebench R15OpenGLCPU
ASUS Z97I-PLUS132.63800
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK123.43799
MSI Z97I Gaming AC119.54759
Higher results are better.
dBpoweramp R15FLAC to MP3
ASUS Z97I-PLUS829 s
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK884 s
MSI Z97I Gaming AC874 s
500 FLAC to 320Kbps MP3.
HandBrake 0.99Result
ASUS Z97I-PLUS2187 s
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK2207 s
MSI Z97I Gaming AC2319 s
Results in seconds; lower is better.

More of the same here.

Sub-system Performance

For memory and CPU testing, we utilize SiSoftware’s Sandra 2013 (SP3a), and for Ethernet testing, we use iperf (or more appropriately, the Java-based jperf which utilizes it).

Sandra 2014 SP2 (Memory)IntegerFloat
ASUS Z97I-PLUS27.472 GB/s27.607 GB/s
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK27.466 GB/s27.458 GB/s
MSI Z97I Gaming AC21.604 GB/s *21.673 GB/s *
Int/Float/Cache results in GB/s; higher is better.* MSI board tested with DDR3-1866 (vs. 2133) sticks due to space limitations.
Sandra 2014 SP2 (Arithmetic)DhrystoneWhetstone
ASUS Z97I-PLUS157.16 GIPS86.22 GFLOPS
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK156.90 GIPS86.03 GFLOPS
MSI Z97I Gaming AC148.79 GIPS83.01 GFLOPS
Higher is better.
Sandra 2014 SP2 (Multi-core)BandwidthLatency
ASUS Z97I-PLUS31.56 GB/s36.5 ns
GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK31.86 GB/s36.7 ns
MSI Z97I Gaming AC28.34 GB/s36.9 ns
Bandwidth results; higher is better. Latency results; lower is better.

It’s interesting here that despite ASUS having a clock boost, it matched up well with GIGABYTE which didn’t auto-OC itself. As for MSI, even though memory has no big say in the Arithmetic test, it fell behind the other two boards here.

In the end, there’s usually a trade-off between boards somewhere in testing, and there’s no exception here. Overall, they all perform well.

Rob Williams

Rob founded Techgage in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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